Subject: Giants at Redskins Thanksgiving game: start time, how to watch, more
Discuss the game here.
The Giants enter this matchup red hot after winning their second game of the season. Washington, meanwhile, is coming off a loss where their quarterback totally choked away a 15-point lead.
This game doesn’t matter a ton as far as the Philadelphia Eagles are concerned. Neither of these teams are threats to them.
With that said, a Washington loss is preferable here because the Giants are only screwing up their 2018 NFL Draft positioning by winning games at this point. Plus it’d make Washington’s long-shot playoff hopes even longer.
Find everything you need to know about tonight’s game below.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
Game time: 8:30 PM EST
Date: Thursday, November 23
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter)
Location: FedEx Field | Landover, Maryland
New York Giants +7 (+100)
Washington Redskins -7 (-120)
Over/under: 45 points
SB Nation Blogs
Giants - www.BigBlueView.com
Washington - www.HogsHaven.com
Open thread: discuss today’s Thanksgiving game in the comments below.
Subject: Cowboys fans call for Dallas to bench Dak Prescott
It has begun.
The Dallas Cowboys dropped to 5-6 on Thanksgiving with a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, 28 to 6. It was the third loss in a row for a Cowboys team that has really struggled during Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension.
Second-year quarterback Dak Prescott has totally crumbled under the pressure of having to carry the Cowboys with Zeke out.
This was fairly predictable; Dallas attempted the third fewest pass attempts in 2016. Prescott’s rookie success was made possible by an awesome supporting cast. Now that everything isn’t perfect, he’s failing to step up. Great quarterbacks find ways to overcome adversity. Needless to say, Prescott isn’t a great quarterback. Put another way ...
Dak Prescott is struggling because his offense lost its best player.— Adam Hermann (@adamwhermann) November 24, 2017
Carson Wentz isn’t because he *is* his offense’s best player.
In his last three starts, Prescott has completed 58 of his 88 attempts for a mere 5.68 average, ZERO touchdowns, FIVE interceptions, and a 57.0 passer rating.
Prescott’s struggles have forced the Cowboys into being a long-shot for the playoffs, and now fans are calling for him to be benched for backup Cooper Rush.
Rookie undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan University, Cooper Rush.
Time to give Cooper Rush a chance! Fire Garrett as well!— StkInAcoldWorld (@in_stk) November 24, 2017
Rush cooper is the future I called it in OTAs I also said that Dak was a one hit wonder the kid has heart but ..... better talent Cooper the next Aaron R @HelmanDC— interesting_minds (@the_messenger79) November 23, 2017
We need to see what Cooper Rush can do at this point cause if you haven’t figured it out yet Dak is not the answer— Rbrinegar (@YRpbrinegar) November 24, 2017
Cooper Rush should play the next game if he gets picked off again— Bry (@thizguy831) November 24, 2017
This is coming from a man that haves #attributes of an #gemini a walking #contradiction one moment #suing and the next moment #settling #JerryJones you need to get @rush_cooper for we can win football games or else without zeke you see how @dak perform. Put a fire under his tail.— Michael Rick Carter (@MRickCarter) November 24, 2017
My hot take is trade him while you can. Cooper Rush is the future.— freyballz (@dcowboyfrey) November 24, 2017
Cooper Rush should start the remaining games. Lets see what hes got— Roy Palacios (@roypjr10) November 24, 2017
cooper rush— Alex Khanin (@twiz718) November 24, 2017
Starting a the Cooper Rush for QB #1 petition...— Dallas (@dteh12) November 24, 2017
Its time for a new HC, new staff and maybe Cooper rush— Ricardo Herrera (@rickyhm1) November 24, 2017
If not Romo, it's honestly time to give Cooper Rush a chance. He couldn't be any worse. He really couldn't.— #9 Tony Romo (@ajohnston05) November 24, 2017
Give my homie Cooper Rush some first team reps— Tony ✭ (@TonyHCS) November 24, 2017
#CowboysNation Not all on @Dak but his lack there of deep mid n sometimes short throw accuracy to connect down field consistently hurts us game in and game out without @EzekielElliott but I know @rush_cooper can win games if given the opportunity to start. He will set NFL on fire— Michael Rick Carter (@MRickCarter) November 24, 2017
Let's see what Cooper Rush can do the rest of the year on top of that.— cody b (@cody_b_) November 24, 2017
Cooper rush movement starts now— Wasboy (@YungBabaWeezy) November 24, 2017
Cooper Rush time....— JMartinez (@JAMART1976) November 24, 2017
The defense played great they can’t carry the team time to think about cooper rush— the zoe (@mpizzo89) November 24, 2017
We gonna see cooper rush get some playing tine? offense cant get any worse.— kevin burch (@KevinBurch851) November 24, 2017
It's cooper rush time, the cowboys next true franchise qb #DakPrescott— 20th century kid (@DavidWi16895298) November 24, 2017
next tweet should read that cooper rush is starting— Jkiha (@get3mj) November 24, 2017
Bring in Cooper Rush!!!! What do we have to lose at this point???— Wayde Huff™ (@WaydeHuff75) November 24, 2017
Need to give Cooper Rush a chance.— MAS84 (@MiguelSantos87) November 24, 2017
How the fuck can u throw it 4 yrds when the 1rst down is 15 yrds , WHAT THE FUCK ?PLEASE GIVE COOPER RUSH!!— Robert (@C_BOYS88) November 24, 2017
@DylansFreshTake to be honest I think they should let Cooper Rush play next game— Tyler Hamilton (@tyhammy23) November 24, 2017
If the same thing happens next week, start Cooper Rush. Dak needs to reevaluate his game.— Nick Forkel (@NickForkel) November 24, 2017
COOPER RUSH TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Nando ✭ Torres III (@Jrgoldenboy79) November 24, 2017
#DallasCowboys these INTs Dak keeps throwing aren’t a result of ZEKE not playing. It’s Cooper Rush time— Bryce Jones (@RevBAJones) November 24, 2017
@dallascowboys 2-4 at Home , a defense that could not catch a cold in december , a QB that is waaaaaay overrated , any good QB can win with any RB , look at Dan Marino , Peyton Manning etc. DAK SUCKS!! Give Cooper Rush a start next week , it cant get any worse , season is OVER!— Raven 88 (@therealreal34) November 24, 2017
I think it's Cooper Rush time guys. Dak is a solid backup at best. Oh and fire the entire pitiful coaching staff.— Jim Oddo (@jim_oddo) November 24, 2017
#DallasCowboys Garrett gotta get fired. Prescott gotta be benched and replaced by Cooper Rush. Corners gotta wake up. Sad time to be a Dallas Fan.— Miguel Velasquez (@mikevjr99) November 24, 2017
Cooper Rush time? At 5-6, wouldn’t hurt to try. https://t.co/L4z8eYrvfu— Artemio Arredondo Jr (@temioarredondo) November 24, 2017
@dak U NEED TO GO TO JASON GARRETT AND PERSONALLY TELL HIM THAT U SUCK ASS AND HE SHOULD GO WITH COOPER RUSH..U ARE KILLIN YOU'RE FOOTBALL TEAM...GO LOOK YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR AND SAY "IM A GARBAGE ASS QBAND ALWAYS WILL BE"...— D TOWN SPORTS (@XFACTOR999) November 24, 2017
Fire Garrett. Fire Linehan. Fire Marinelli. Start Cooper Rush. Season is over, burn it all down. #CowboysNation— Josh Knight (@jknight1713) November 24, 2017
Bench Dak for Cooper Rush and find out what we have. Also Jason Garrett needs to be fired. The season is done and time to get this headed in the right direction— iRespectWomen (@MemphisTangoH1) November 24, 2017
Just put Cooper Rush in the rest of the season... Dak has had his was exposed enough. One hit wonder.— Isaiah (@isaiah_jrod) November 24, 2017
I wouldn't even waste my time bringing Zeke back the last 2 games. Why risk injury? I'd also bench Dak for Cooper Rush.— Zack (@YankeesGod2722) November 24, 2017
Maybe it’s time for Cooper Rush to take Daks job— (@BeckyBaybe) November 24, 2017
Seriously bench dak and get a fire lit under his ass to win— papa clark (@dizzyI41) November 24, 2017
Bench Dak— Jean-Ralphio (@JayRamos45) November 24, 2017
Bench dak— Jim Donald (@jim_donald) November 24, 2017
It’s time to bench Dak— Karl Mama (@__Kmama) November 24, 2017
Time to bench Dak— Che (@checoh1) November 24, 2017
Why do people keep saying Dak needs Zeke NO Dak needs to go to the bench— Juan Ramirez (@jramirez180) November 24, 2017
Bench Dak the next game and get Rush to start https://t.co/6JzpcITO6u— Kingsley RayShawn (@tkmpita25) November 24, 2017
Time to bench Dak— Killz (@bglkillz18) November 24, 2017
Jerry needs to fire Garrett and replace him with Romo or at least bench Dak and replace him with Romo.— Stephen Hallum (@Stephen_Hallum) November 24, 2017
Time to bench Dak.— Montclaire (@CMontclaire45) November 24, 2017
Pls bench dak prescott— noah (@Ngmoreno15M) November 24, 2017
Bench fucking Dak Prescott— The Toddfather (@TROY3R) November 24, 2017
Trash!! Fire Garret fire miranilli fire linehan bench dak— Mark Pacheco (@Kram3201) November 24, 2017
Bench Dak— nico / BEEF (Fuck Quavo) *migos diss*-Soulja Boy (@nico_duenaz) November 24, 2017
Dak can take his talents to the bench— COWBOYS4LIFE (@SlimRipper30) November 24, 2017
Bench Dak. Simple as that.— Rudy R. Reyes (@rudedogreyes) November 24, 2017
Time to bench Dak. Sorry, but it's time.— Ashley (@stewarthewett) November 24, 2017
Bench Dak give Coop a chance— nic olson (@cbcballer44) November 24, 2017
BENCH DAK PRESCOTT.— Bitch Stewie (@Dzzle_D) November 24, 2017
bench dak— Bg (@BgFromThePack) November 24, 2017
Bench this trashcan already! Dak sucks!— PuigYourFriend (@ray_dodgers) November 24, 2017
Bench Dak he is done!!!!— John C. Flores (@jcf209) November 24, 2017
Get Dak off the field..he sucks. Bench his ass.. #Cowboys— Rafter Man (@MikeB_702) November 24, 2017
Subject: NFC Playoff Picture: Updated standings after Thanksgiving games
A look at where things stand.
Here’s an updated look at the NFC playoff picture following Thursday’s Thanksgiving games.
NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
Top six seeds
1 - Philadelphia Eagles: 9-1 overall, 7-0 conference
2 - Minnesota Vikings: 9-2 overall, 7-1 conference
3 - New Orleans Saints: 8-2 overall, 6-1 conference
4 - Los Angeles Rams: 7-3 overall, 4-3 conference
5 - Carolina Panthers: 7-3 overall, 4-3 conference
6 - Atlanta Falcons: 6-4 overall, 5-1 conference
In the hunt
7 - Seattle Seahawks: 6-4 overall, 4-3 conference
8 - Detroit Lions: 6-5 overall, 5-4 conference
9 - Green Bay Packers: 5-5 overall, 4-4 conference
10 - Dallas Cowboys: 5-6 overall, 4-4 conference
11 - Washington Redskins: 5-6 overall, 4-5 conference
12 - Arizona Cardinals: 4-6 overall, 3-5 conference
13 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-6 overall, 2-4 conference
Here’s how each of Thursday’s three games impacted the Eagles.
VIKINGS BEAT LIONS: Eagles fans were rooting for a Lions win on Turkey Day but Detroit unsurprisingly failed to pull off the upset. The Vikings are still No. 2 overall in the conference. The Eagles will need to continue to win in order to stay at the No. 1 seed. If there conference record ends up being the same, Philly likely won’t be able to beat Minnesota on common games or strength of victory tie-breakers. The Vikings are set to play two roads games next: at the Falcons and at the Panthers. It’d be great if Minnesota lost both of those games, but at least one would be nice. The Rams beating the Saints this weekend would also give the Eagles more breathing room.
CHARGERS BEAT COWBOYS: Hahaha. The Cowboys are pretty much done. They look awful without Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas didn’t actually drop in the standings since they only lost to an AFC team but they didn’t move up either. The Cowboys still have to play three more games without Zeke. Their next matchup is a home game set to take place against Washington. Dallas defeated them earlier this season, but they had Elliott for that game. Assuming Philly beats the Bears, a Cowboys loss would allow the Eagles to clinch the NFC East before November is even over. How crazy is that?
WASHINGTON BEATS GIANTS: Meh. A Washington loss would’ve been preferable but they still have some ground to make up. Washington is banged up and they didn’t look good against a bad Giants team so they’re not really scaring anyone. Next up for Washington is that aforementioned Cowboys game on Thursday night. If Washington wins, the Eagles clinch the division. If Washington loses, they drop to 5-7 and fall further out of the playoff picture. Win-win.
Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: Sky rockets in flight...
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*>slide whistle noise<...afternoon
delight hockey game that will likely end in a loss! Yes folks, you might be at work (I’m so sorry), but the Flyers will be taking the ice at 4PM to play the second half of the home-and-home with the Islanders. If you missed Wednesday OT let-down, we’ve got you covered! RECAP!
*And also, as always, ten things to learn from the last game ahead of this next one. If nothing else, we learned that the two pad stack isn’t dead yet. And that’s fun.[BSH]
*It wasn’t all bad on Wednesday, though. The upside of a team taking a bit of a nosedive is it can lead to a shakeup, in this case, the team (FINALLY) calling up Samuel Morin and the Phantom’s leading scorer, Danick Martel. Here’s hoping they stick. [Philly.com]
*Jake Voracek also shares the important thing in his life that he’s grateful for. [Philly.com]
*And though we’ve passed the first holiday hurdle, these tips for surviving the holidays as a Flyers fan should be useful through the New Year. [BSH]
*I got to interview the legendary Lou Nolan last week, and it was pretty cool. He had a lot of neat things to say and, despite my nerves, I think it was a nice little interview. I hope you listen and enjoy it, and then buy Lou’s book. [BSH]
*There are lots of goals being scored in the NHL this season. And they didn’t even have to make any big sweeping rule changes! [ProHockeyTalk]
*Friedman’s latest Thoughts, which center on a possible big jump in the salary cap and the NHL getting into....E-Sports? Maybe perfect this one actual sport you’re in charge of before branching out boys, just saying. [Sportsnet]
*And finally, if you’re able to think about food today, you might like this: NHL players sharing their favorite recipes. It’s fun. [ESPN]
Subject: Eagles News: Carson Wentz featured on ESPN The Magazine cover
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/24/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
Carson Wentz Takes Flight - ESPN
At the epicenter of this fever pitch is Wentz, who is doing his level best to preserve calm. Outside his locker after a recent practice, he maintains obliviousness to any growing fervor. "Honestly, at least for me," he says, "win, lose, draw, good, bad, ugly -- I don't really think about the outside noise." No one tell Wentz, but his resolve to tune out the roar, to put on his hard hat and go to work, might just stoke these particular masses. Blue-collar ethos is a crowd-pleaser everywhere but especially in Philadelphia. "He seems like a guy that could be living in a row house in Kensington," Didinger says.
Eagles-Bears Preview: Easy win? Or maybe a little tougher than expected? - BGN
Previewing the Eagles vs. Bears game in Week 12, analyzing key matchups, talking playoff implications, and much more.
Eagles vs. Bears: Five matchups to watch - PhillyVoice
Typically, teams with losing records are forced to throw significantly more than they run, since they are trailing in most games. The Bears are an exception, as they will stick to the run, even when faced with deficits. In fact, they run the ball on 48.2 percent of their plays, which is second-most in the NFL. That plays right into the strength of the Eagles' defense, who still have the top-ranked run defense in the NFL, allowing just 71.0 rushing yards per game. The Eagles also come into this game unhappy that they gave up over 100 rushing yards to the Dallas Cowboys, even with a blowout win. "There's some teams in the league that -- what did we give up, 110, 112," Jim Schwartz asked on Tuesday. "I think some people might get a pat on the back for that. I think it's a tribute to the players in the locker room that that's a poor performance for them, and they consider it a poor performance."
Five Questions with Bleeding Green Nation - Windy City Gridiron
Each week, we check in with our friends at our sister blogs - this time we go to the City of Brotherly Love and talk with Bleeding Green Nations Brandon Gowton. First, allow me to pass along a Happy Thanksgiving. It’s great that we’re playing the Eagles on Thanksgiving weekend as it allows me to remind all of you that Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia’s favorite adopted son, once argued for the Turkey to be the national bird instead of the eagle. His arguments were incredibly practical and I think it’s kind of sad he didn’t prevail. How cool would it have been to play the Philadelphia Turkeys? Enjoy your holiday. Feel free to share your poor nutritional decisions below in the comments.
Eagles Put Team First In 9-1 Success Story - PE.com
Jeffrey Lurie wanted it this way when he spoke of “emotional intelligence” late in the 2015 Eagles season. A coaching change was in the midst and Lurie outlined some of the attributes he wanted in the team’s next head man ...
Can Alshon Jeffery's best game come against his former team? - Inquirer
Alshon Jeffery plays his former team: The headline of the first Early Birds in September read: “Eagles finally have a No. 1 WR in Alshon Jeffery.” Through 10 games, Jeffery has been a major upgrade at outside receiver for the Eagles. But he hasn’t exactly been the second coming of Terrell Owens in Philadelphia. He has 38 catches for 567 yards and six touchdowns – four of those scores came in the last three games – and is still searching for his first 100-yard game. He’s not on pace for 1,000 yards, although one big game could quickly change it. Could that game come Sunday? Jeffery has downplayed the significance of playing his former team, but you can bet Jeffery will be excited. The Bears haven’t allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 3 and they know how dangerous he is. However, Jeffery has been heating up and the Eagles are finding different ways to use him in formations. He played in the slot more last week than any other game this season. Don’t be surprised if Jeffery’s best game comes Sunday and he plays like a bona fide No. 1 receiver.
NFL odds, picks Week 12: Advanced computer model loves Eagles, Jets - CBS Sports
Philadelphia is among the Vegas favorites to win it all this year, and it continues to roll through the competition. The Eagles aren't just winning, they're dominating. They've won eight straight, and five of those victories have been by double-digits. Their average margin of victory has jumped to 26.3 points per game over the last three weeks. The Bears, meanwhile, are the losers of three straight and will be without linebacker Leonard Floyd on Sunday. Philly wins this game straight-up in a whopping 89 percent of simulations and covers the spread 63 percent of the time. Lock in a pick for Philadelphia in this one with a high degree of confidence.
Smallwood, Douglas deal with greatly reduced roles for Eagles - DelawareOnline
All of that has come at the expense of key contributors throughout much of the Eagles' 9-1 start in running back Wendell Smallwood and cornerback Rasul Douglas. Neither played last Sunday against the Cowboys. Smallwood wasn't even on the active roster for the game, the first time in his two NFL seasons that he was a healthy scratch. It's a role both Smallwood and Douglas are trying to adjust to. "I’m just here to help the team, whatever my role is," said Douglas, the Eagles' third-round pick last spring. "That’s just my job." Smallwood declined an interview request this week.
Right side of Eagles' offensive line should be lock for Pro Bowl - NBC Sports Philadelphia
If everything continues to go to plan this season, the trio of Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson won't be in Orlando in late January for the Pro Bowl. If everything goes to plan, the Eagles' right side of the line will be too busy preparing to play in the Super Bowl. They'll certainly be deserving of making it to the Pro Bowl though. "I want to, man," Johnson said about the whole right side of the line making it. "I don't want to campaign for myself. But as far as the years we're having, we're doing pretty good."
Rodney McLeod and the Philadelphia Eagles help brighten a family’s holiday - NFL Player Engagement
As far as the timing goes, it couldn’t have been much better. Less than 16 hours after they beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, Nov. 19, and three days before Thanksgiving, six Philadelphia Eagles players became Bob Discount Furniture employees and made this holiday season special for Shatia Dennis and her family. Dennis, a single mother with five children ranging in age from two to 12, was selected by the Eagles Care partner, Dignity Housing, to receive a house full of furniture courtesy of Bob’s. And with the Eagles help made a day of it. “Great timing, great timing,’’ Eagles safety Rodney McLeod, one of the six players on hand, said. “We might have gotten shut out of the house, if we had lost to the Cowboys. You know how people around here feel about the Cowboys.’’
Despite injury, Chris Maragos remains a leader on Eagles - Yahoo! Sports
Minutes after doctors told Chris Maragos he needed season-ending knee surgery, the Philadelphia Eagles' special teams captain got a phone call that his wife was going into labor. ''I literally got the best news and worst news within 15 minutes,'' Maragos said. Maragos and his wife welcomed their third child, daughter Cambria Rose, on Oct. 16. He had his torn posterior cruciate ligament repaired a few weeks later. The injury is expected to keep him off the field until training camp. So while the Eagles (9-1) continue their pursuit of the franchise's first Super Bowl title, Maragos is forced to watch from the sideline.
32 NFL observations, Week 11 - PFF
Philadelphia Eagles: Since the start of the 2015 season, 110 defenders have missed tackles on LeGarrette Blount carries. That is the second-most for backs in that time span.
Eli Manning is just the 8th quarterback in NFL history with 100 regular season losses - SB Nation
The Giants’ 20-10 loss to Washington brought Manning’s career record down to 110-100, making him just the eighth quarterback in league history to lose 100 games or more. Despite the ignominious honor, he can at least take solace that he’s had nearly three times as many NFL wins as his father.
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Subject: Eagles vs. Bears Game Preview: 6 questions and answers with the enemy
Previewing the Eagles’ Week 12 matchup.
In order to preview the Eagles’ Week 12 game against Chi-town, I reached out to our friends over at Windy City Gridiron. The great Jeff Berckes (@gridironborn) kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let's take a look at the answers. (Also don't forget to check out my Q&A exchange over at WCG.)
1 - I don’t think the Eagles are going to lose this week, but I do think this matchup has trap game conditions for Philly. Coming off some big blowout wins … about to go on a big three-game road trip. It might be easy to overlook a Bears team that’s gone 3-7. But a closer look reveals the Bears have been playing teams close. The defense also seems respectable. Is it fair to say Chicago is a little better than their record indicates?
The phrase that I have used all year is that Chicago is a "tough out." That's a nice thing to say about a pesky hitter that fouls off pitch after pitch until they get a decent ball to hit. I think that's still a fair analogy. The Bears aren't going to scare anyone - this team is not built to hit it out of the park - but if they can get you down into the muck, they'll try to steal one late. The defense has shown signs of being a good unit, but then they'll have a drive where they look completely lost. The Bears could be 5-5 or even 6-4 with some very reasonable breaks, but they're not good enough to overcome even the slightest adversity. In other words, the margin for error is so small that a sneeze or a heavy cough can throw their whole system out of whack.
2 - To what extent do the Bears miss Alshon Jeffery? Since he’s going to be a free agent after this season, do you hope Chicago will try to bring him back?
Speaking for myself, I miss Alshon Jeffery like the deserts miss the rain, or however that song goes. Yes, he struggled with soft tissue injuries during his tenure in Chicago, but when he was on the field he was so much fun to watch. I bought a number 17 jersey and was absolutely heartbroken when he signed with Philly. However, I will say that I was so impressed with Wentz last year and I love your defense, that Alshon's signing allowed me to fully jump on the Wentz Wagon as my primary alternative cheering interest. I was the only WCG writer to take the Eagles as the NFC East champs before the year and I've managed to watch every Eagles game.
Will Chicago try to resign him? No. I think they drove him away by being stingy. General Manager Ryan Pace didn't draft Alshon, so there isn't a big connection there. Unless the Bears hire someone from the Eagles staff that has a huge connection with Alshon, I don't see it happening.
3 - How has Mitchell Trubisky looked? What’s the level of optimism regarding his future?
Shameless self promotion here but I wrote this article last week about my feelings with Trubisky and a fan base that was already showing signs of losing faith.
Short answer is - he's looked like a rookie with upside. I think he's shown everything you need to see from him in his rookie year. He worked hard to steadily work his way up the depth chart. He's commanded the huddle and earned the respect of his teammates. He's elevated the play of the people around him. He's made some big time throws, taken care of the ball, and the game hasn't looked too big for him. On the other hand, he's taken some bad sacks, he's been a inaccurate at times, and most importantly, he hasn't put a ton of points on the board.
I think the future looks bright. I wasn't so sure about it when we drafted him as he had such a limited college resume. But I've liked everything I've read about his work ethic and what he says and his play has been encouraging. With the right coaching and some NFL weapons, I think he could develop into something special.
4 - What’s one matchup that really favors the Bears? And one that really favors the Eagles?
Well...the safe answer is probably none and all but I'll play along. Relatively speaking, I think the Bears have been stout against the run this year, particularly inside runs. The Eagles seem to have a handful of backs running through that lineup, but Blount running inside may not be that effective. I think running Jay Ajayi or Clement to the outside would serve the Eagles better. On the other side, well, I think there are no wrong answers but I'm particularly nervous about the Eagles pass rush against an inexperienced Mitchell Trubisky. The rookie struggled against the blitz in the Packers game, yuck, and the Eagles are 100 times better than that green and mustard team.
5 - Which one Eagles player would you steal if you could have them on the Bears? If you were FORCED to help Philly, which best Bears player would you put on the Eagles?
I only get one? I know the Eagles and Bears play different defensive schemes, but I love Fletcher Cox. Our defensive line is good and adding a star like Cox would put us on the map as a legitimate, scary defense. On the other side, our best players would be competing with some of your best players, but I'd lend you our Left Tackle Charles Leno Jr. who has been solid and has 4 years of starting experience. I know Vaitai has been okay, but Leno would be an upgrade for your playoff run.
Bonus: Who wins this game and why? Score prediction?
Fly, Eagles, Fly, 34-13. The Eagles are the best team in the NFC and it's my belief that we'll see them in the Super Bowl this year. If the Eagles can get off to a fast start, it's over. If they allow the Bears to hang around, the score will be closer than predicted. It is just hard to imagine a scenario where the Bears can beat this Eagles team.
Subject: Your Friday Morning Roundup
Subject: Flyers vs. Islanders preview: Is today the day the losing streak ends?
Can the Flyers avoid losing a seventh straight on the best shopping day of the year?
The front end of the series went to the Islanders, who defended home ice with a 4-3 win in overtime thanks to a Josh Bailey goal just 32 seconds into the extra session.
Despite his team being out-chanced by the Islanders, Brian Elliott was the great equalizer in net for the Flyers and earned his team a point with some miraculous saves among the 35 he came up with in the losing effort. Looking to end what has been an ugly losing skid, the Flyers will need to again get stellar goaltending if they’re to get back into the win column for the first time since beating Chicago back on Nov. 9.
As for the Islanders, they’ve now won four of their past five games and are riding the hot hand of Bailey, who leads the team in scoring (26 points) on the year and has eight points in his last five games. Not lost in the terrific effort from Brian Elliott in the Flyers net was Thomas Greiss’ effort for the Isles in also stopping 35 shots on his way to his seventh win in 11 games.
Dave Hakstol’s club will look to do a better job on the penalty kill this time around as a pair of Islanders power play goals ended up proving to be the difference in the loss on Wednesday night. The Isles scored on their first two man-advantage chances but did come up empty on their last three opportunities, something positive to take away for the Flyers.
Another positive was the Flyers’ shot selection, which saw less point shots compared to previous losses in the last week or so. Getting into the tough areas to score is something that comes and goes with this group but based off their shot chart from Wednesday, there was a concerted effort to get to the high scoring areas of the ice.
The NHL debut of Danick Martel was a good one as the AHL’s leading goal scorer created a nice chance on a partial breakaway early and could give the Flyers’ offense a much-needed jolt of energy. As for the 2017 debut of Sam Morin, it wasn’t the best night for the hulking defenseman. A delay of game penalty resulted in a Islanders power play goal and an interference call in the third nearly cost the Flyers a point.
To break the streak the Flyers will need more of the depth scoring they got (Michael Raffl, Taylor Leier) on Wednesday night and couple that with a better effort on the penalty kill in order to get back in the win column in the crowded Metropolitan.
Projected Flyers lines:
Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Martel – Patrick – Simmonds
Raffl – Filppula – Konecny
Leier – Laughton – Weal
Provorov – Hagg
Sanheim – Manning
Morin – Gostisbehere
Great work, Vinny.
For the third time this season, a member of the Philadelphia Eagles has been named NFLPA Community MVP of the Week. In Week 2, it was defensive end Chris Long. In Week 3, it was franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. Now Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry is taking home the award.
Curry is being recognized for his Thanksgiving Rush program, which provided Thanksgiving meals to over 200 families in need. Awesome job.
As an NFLPA Community MVP award winner, Curry is also eligible for the annual Byron “Whizzer” White (BWW) Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins received the BWW Award in 2017.
It’s really cool that the Eagles have so many players making a positive impact off the field. Philadelphia’s football team is already very easy to root for considering their 9-1 record. Their off-field contributions make them even more likeable.
2017 NFLPA MVP Community Award Winners
Week 1 - Colin Kaepernick, Free agent quarterback
Week 2 - Chris Long, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end
Week 3 - Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback
Week 9 - Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end
Week 11 - Vinny Curry, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end
Subject: Black Friday Sale up to 20% Off
Subject: Talking Philadelphia Eagles on the radio tonight
Listen to BGN Radio on SportsRadioWIP!
BGN Radio, our site's podcast, will be streaming live on SportsRadio 94WIP this evening (Friday, November 24) from 6:00 - 10:00 PM ET. (Click here to listen to us) We’ll be talking about the Philadelphia Eagles and taking your calls! Join the conversation by dialing 888.729.9494. Tweet at us on Twitter: @BGN_Radio.
Brandon Lee Gowton (that’s me), John Barchard, and James Seltzer will be broadcasting live from Toll Man Joe’s in South Philly (come visit us) to talk about the EAGLES’ WEEK 12 GAME AGAINST THE CHICAGO BEARS, the NFL playoff picture, the Cowboys losing on Thanksgiving, Dak Prescott sucking, and much more.
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Subject: Eagles vs. Bears Week 12: Five Friday
I would like to kick off our Week 12 column with an important reminder—one that we’ll likely include in every FFFS for the foreseeable future:
Stop saying the S.B. Word.
If you missed it from last week’s post, there is definitely terrible, horrible, no good, very bad juju-mugumbo that comes from saying the S. B. Word. Especially when you cheer for a franchise so often ridiculed for its lack of S. B. Words. Especially when you play in a very tough conference and haven’t even sealed up the division yet (though that’ll probably happen soon #DallasSucks).
We’ll have more conversations about how deep into the playoffs that this young QB/HC duo can take Philadelphia when the time comes. For now, don’t risk angering the powers that be. Avoid bad juju. Do the right thing. Taboo the S. B. Word.
1) Big Money Nigel
Another echo of FFFS past: Nigel is even less intimidating of a name than Ronald. Imagine hearing the call: “Trubisky drops back into the pocket...he’s flushed out, scrambling to his right...looking downfield...OH! What a shot by Nigel! Trubisky is sacked at the 43 yard line—that’s an 8-yard loss.”
“Yeah Joe, Nigel just buried him on that play. You know, Nigel’s a very instinctive player, and...”
Please tell me that sounds as absurd to you as it does to me.
Name games aside, Mr. Bradham has played excellent football since the moment he donned the midnight green, and in Jordan Hicks’ extended absence, Bradham’s value has really shined.
Over the five weeks (4 games) since Hicks lost the remainder of the season, Bradham leads all qualifying linebackers in coverage snaps/target, coverage snaps/reception, and yards allowed/coverage snap (per PFF). Over the entire season, Bradham actually has the most coverage snaps of all qualifying LBs...and still leads the league in all three categories.
That’s straight bonkers, team. Offenses aren’t throwing it to Bradham, aren’t completing it on Bradham, and even when they do, it’s for minimal gains (over the Hicks-less span, Bradham hasn’t missed a tackle. In pass coverage or run support.)
After making the Hicks-iest of plays by cashing in on a key turnover against Dallas, Bradham has cemented himself as a key cog on this defense. There’s no way Philadelphia lets him walk in the offseason—and, after Bleeding Green Nation reported that Eagles insider Dave Spadaro expects another extension signed in the coming weeks, I think the writing on the wall became ever clearer: Bradham’s getting inked, soon.
Bradham won’t be bank-breaking, because he doesn’t have crazy production stats against the run. Philadelphia signed Mychal Kendricks to a 4-year extension at 7.25M/year in 2015, with 11M guaranteed. That’s a good starting number for Bradham’s negotiations.
2) Nicky Franchise goes franchise hunting
Philadelphia will be strapped for cap in 2018, even if my above prognostication falls through. As of right now, they’re projected to rank last in available cap next season at -2.7M. Now, they’ll be able to open up a good deal of space and clear the ceiling with some obvious moves: cutting Torrey Smith, Mychal Kendricks, and Brent Celek (that one will hurt) puts Philly 11M in the black.
But another oft-proposed cut is Nicholas “The God” Foles, Philadelphia cult hero and co-record holder with some dude named Peyton Manning. The backup will carry a 7.6M cap hit in 2018 (Carson Wentz costs 7.25M), good enough for 9th-highest on Philly’s roster.
The backup QB position is of eternally-underestimated importance. It’s one thing to lose your starting QB for the season and try to salvage the year with your backup. That’s nigh on impossible, and Mike Zimmer in Minnesota deserves bundles of credit for doing so (though his “starting” QB was never a starting-caliber player). But having a QB who can step in for 2-3 games and keep your team competitive when your starter gets nicked up? That’s so incredibly valuable.
I believe that’s what Philadelphia currently has in Nick Foles: one of the most talented backups in the NFL. In the current QB climate, you could call him a fringe starter. Philadelphia may wish to hold on to Foles as necessary insurance for a physical running QB in Carson Wentz (how has Carson not gotten injured yet in his career KNOCKONWOOD)—but given their cap situation and Roseman’s penchant for trades, dealing Foles may be an advantageous move.
As such, Foles can potential boost his trade value by playing some decent football in his limited reps. I expect this game to be over all but over by the beginning of the fourth (KNOCKONWOOD) and I’d love to see Doug and Howie let Foles run the full offense and throw the football, with the stipulation that he’s fresh and ready to do so.
If not now, Foles may get the last game or two of the season to make his audition. Good Foles film could reap significant trade benefits for a Philadelphia team lacking a 2nd and 3rd round pick in the 2018 Draft.
3) Derek Barnett cools off
Over the past four games, Derek Barnett has averaged 1 sack and 3 tackles/game. Over the first six games, that’s 0 sacks and .8 tackles. Best part? His pass-rushing snaps haven’t drastically increased over that period of time: 22/game in the first period, 24.5/game in the second.
So you could say he’s hot.
Here’s the rub, however: his production still feels a little fluky. His four sacks have come from two games, two apiece: Week 7 vs. Washington and Week 11 at Dallas. If we were to qualify each one:
#1 (v. Washington): Beat TE Jordan Reed cleanly
#2 (v. Washington): Beat OT T.J. Clemmings decently
#3 (v. Dallas): read naked bootleg and tackled Dak in space
#4 (v. Dallas): beat OT Byron Bell cleanly and strips football
He hasn’t yet beaten a starting offensive tackle for a sack. And, if we go to the film, we see that he’s still experiencing a similar issue that he found in college: failing to take the corner tightly and often ending up behind the quarterback, even on his sacks.
I’ve noticed Philadelphia fans start to throw some shade at analysts and other fans who weren’t Barnett’s biggest fans, and would have liked to see a different pick at #14. As one of those analysts and fans, I’m very happy to see Derek Barnett producing, but that doesn’t surprise me too much: he produced a lot in college, and he’s a good football player.
However, Barnett is showing much more in his rookie season than he did in college—which is perfectly fine, he’s only one year removed. He’s done well to generate consistent pressure, he plays the run nicely, and I love his motor. However, my original prediction remains: that he would be a solid complimentary pass rusher who would never generate a significant amount of high-quality sacks, and that such a player was over-drafted at #14.
I know Philadelphia is in full “strike back” mode at all of the #haterz right now: Carson Wentz doubters, Doug Pederson doubters, and now Derek Barnett doubters. It feels good to be on top, most assuredly. I’d be cautious of what goes around, however—it usually comes back.
4) Dallas sucks
What a time to be alive.
Dallas’ point differential over the past 3 games has been -70. They have scored below double-digits for three straight games--that had never before happened in franchise history. At one point, the offense had gone 25 consecutive drives without a touchdown (shout-out excellent Cowboy claback-er Dave Mangels).
Things are very bad in Dallas.
Let’s start with Dak: cut the kid a break. The entire offensive game plan and ideology has changed due to injuries/suspension, and his defense is absolutely no help. It’s absurd to believe that these are good circumstances under which to evaluate quarterback play, and if you didn’t enjoy folks ripping on Wentz when he was likewise deprived of help, don’t rip on Dak now.
That being said, for what Dak has been asked to do with the pieces he has around him, he has really struggled. It’s clear he’s trying to bear the entire offense on his shoulders, and he isn’t built for that. As such, his play has sharply declined.
Things look very bleak for the Cowboys. That offensive line was not playing great football before the Smith injury—and to be frank, I’m not sure if we’ll ever see Smith at 100% again. Having a stud LB only works when he can stay on the field—Eagle fans know a little about that. Dez struggles to separate, Cole Beasley has vanished, Terrence Williams is bad, and Witten is old. Besides DeMarcus Lawrence (pending FA), you can’t find a consistently good player on that defense.
But the problems are even worse for Dallas: they don’t have neither the coach nor the GM to fix it. Jason “The Clapper” Garrett will likely end this season with only 2 winning campaigns over 7 years as a head coach. Dallas currently ranks 28th in the NFL in 3rd quarter points and 32nd in the league in 3rd quarter points allowed per game—Garrett’s getting out-coached in-game on the regular.
Meanwhile, his front office hasn’t helped him at all. They killed the 2014 draft early—Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence is good work—but since then it’s been oft-injured, inconsistent, suspended players across the board.
2016: Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins, Charles Tapper
They get credit for late-round gems (Dak Prescott, Anthony Brown, Xavier Woods), but we all know they never intended on drafting Dak, Brown is regressing, and they won’t play Woods! These past classes have been downright bad, folks.
Dallas is currently at a low. Getting healthy players back will help, certainly. But there are deep-seated issues with this Dallas organization that aren’t going away any time soon.
5) Da Bears
It would be great if the offense could come out hot, after they’ve sputtered to begin two of the past three games. Chicago is a scrappy team that’s looking for momentum after a frustrating loss to Detroit last week—there’s no reason to give them anything to believe in early.
Carson, who’s seen his numbers drop the past couple of contests, faces a good defense in Chicago: not great, but solid. If Carson has really taken the next step, he should be able to run the offense smoothly; if he’s regressing back after an explosive middle of the season, we’ll see him struggle.
On the other side of the ball, I can’t wait to watch how Jim Schwartz addresses a rookie QB in Mitchell Trubisky. As he’s settled into a starting role midseason, Trubisky has improved his play with every passing week, and Chicago fans should be excited about his future. But Trubisky will panic in the face of the rush, and I think Schwartz is going to bring the heat early and often in an attempt to build the lead.
Give me Philadelphia with 38, Chicago with 17. I know some may anticipate a trap game, but I trust Coach Pederson to motivate his team to a strong win to kickoff their arduous road trip on the horizon. Jay Ajayi ought to rip off another big run (50+) en route to his first 100 yard game as an Eagle. I like Big Money Nigel to get a pick when handling Tarik Cohen in space, Fletcher Cox to pick up another sack, and Zach Ertz ends fantasy owners’ pain with a big day: 11 catches, 120 yards, 1 TD.
Alshon’s homecoming stats? 5 catches, 59 yards.
On to Seattle.
Subject: Eagles-Bears Final Injury Report: Several Chicago starters are doubtful or questionable to play
Final Eagles injury update.
Backup defensive tackle Beau Allen and backup tight end Trey Burton have been ruled questionable for Sunday’s game. Doug Pederson said they’ll be game-time decisions, but it seems unlikely they’ll play given how they missed practice time this week. The positive to take away here is that it doesn’t seem like their injuries will cause them to miss an extended period of time.
Burton’s absence would mean more playing time for Brent Celek. The Eagles also like to use Isaac Seumalo as a run-blocking “tight end” in certain situations.
Starting safety Rodney McLeod isn’t even listed on the injury report despite being limited in Wednesday’s practice. That’s a good sign.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES INJURY REPORT (FRIDAY)
DT Beau Allen (knee)
TE Trey Burton (back)
CB Sidney Jones
OT Jason Peters
LB Jordan Hicks
DT Aziz Shittu
WR Dom Williams
CHICAGO BEARS INJURY REPORT (FRIDAY)
The Bears are dealing with injuries to several starters.
Starting inside linebacker Danny Trevathan is doubtful to play. He didn’t participate in practice all week. Trevathan was leading Chicago in tackles prior to getting hurt.
Starting wide receiver Josh Bellamy is also doubtful. He ranks second on the team in snaps played at his position.
Starting offensive guard Kyle Long and starting defensive end Akiem Hicks are both questionable to play. Long popped up on the injury report on Thursday was limited in practice over the past two days. Hicks, the Bears’ sack leader, didn’t practice on Wednesday and Thursday but was limited on Friday.
Starting outside linebacker Pernell McPhee popped up on the Bears’ injury report today after being a full participant in practice all week. He’s dealing with a knee issue and he’s questionable to play.
Former Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez is questionable due to illness. Too many chicken tenders, bro.
ILB Danny Trevathan (calf)
WR Josh Bellamy (concussion)
DE Roy Robertson-Harris (hamstring)
S DeAndre Houston-Carson (ankle)
DE Akiem Hicks (knee)
OG Kyle Long (ankle)
OLB Pernell McPhee
TE Deon Sims (illness)
WR Dontrelle Inman (groin)
OT Tom Compton (ankle)
DE Mitch Unrein (knee)
CB Bryce Callahan (knee)
QB Mark Sanchez (illness)
OLB Leonard Floyd
ILB Jerrell Freeman
DB Deiondre’ Hall
OL Eric Kush
TE Zach Miller
WR Kevin White
OLB Willie Young
Subject: Flyers vs. Islanders lineups, start time, TV, radio, live stream and discussion
Can we just, like ... win? Please?
Tonight’s game begins at 4:00 p.m. ET and can be:
- Seen locally via NBC Sports Philadelphia (or via stream on the NBC Sports App)
- Heard via radio locally on 97.5 The Fanatic
- Seen in New York via MSG+
- Seen or heard elsewhere via Sportsnet, NHL.tv, NHL Center Ice, or Sirius XM
At this point, we do not know today’s starter in net for the Flyers; otherwise, we are expecting more or less the same lineups on each side as we saw on Wednesday night in Brooklyn.
Projected Flyers lineup:
Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Weal - Patrick - Simmonds
Martel - Filppula - Konecny
Leier - Laughton - Raffl
Provorov - Hagg
Manning - Gostisbehere
Morin - Sanheim
Lee - Tavares - Bailey
Ladd - Barzal - Eberle
Nelson - Beauvillier - Ho-Sang
Chimera - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Leddy - Boychuk
de Haan - Pelech
Seidenberg - Mayfield
Subject: Islanders 5, Flyers 4: Losing streak hits seven with overtime loss
The Flyers are bad, folks.
Despite a two-goal lead to start the third, the Flyers were unable to close the deal as the Islanders improved to 2-7-1 when trailing after two periods this season. Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere, Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers in the losing effort.
Brian Elliott turned aside 32 of 37 shots in a tough luck loss as the Flyers’ goalie was again left out to dry many times by his teammates in front of him.
Entering as the NHL’s 28th ranked penalty kill, the Flyers were able to kill off an early Islanders power play following a high-sticking call to Wayne Simmonds. The Flyers did build momentum with three-straight penalty kills a couple nights ago so starting this one off with another kill continued the positive momentum.
Nothing much in the way of scoring chances for the Flyers through the first half of the period as the Islanders did a good job keeping shots to the outside and keeping bodies out of the way of goaltender Thomas Greiss.
A good chance for Danick Martel in front of a Nolan Patrick setup looked promising at the 8:35 mark, but Martel couldn’t corral the puck to get off a shot on Greiss. Not to be outdone, Travis Sanheim faked out Josh Ho-Sang on the same shift, but had his shot blocked in front.
Martel then set up Patrick with a lead pass that resulted in a breakaway for his fellow rookie, but Patrick was held and awarded a penalty shot with 2:59 left in the first.
But Greiss wasn’t forced to make a save on the penalty shot as Patrick deked the goalie but save the puck roll off his stick and sailed wide of the net. Nevertheless, it was a nice hookup between a pair of young guns the Flyers will look to develop going forward.
Patrick's penalty shot pic.twitter.com/ph8rZNQbk4— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 24, 2017
With 14 seconds left in the period it would be the visitors who would strike first as Mathew Barzal would get credit for his sixth of the season to make it 1-0 Islanders. The puck glanced off Barzal and just snuck over the goal line and appeared to just nick Brian Elliott’s skate before crossing the line.
A good pinch by Robert Hagg forced a turnover and the puck ended up in the wheelhouse of Claude Giroux, who ripped a slap shot past Greiss to things up at 1-1. Hagg would draw the lone assists on the goal that came at the 3:49 mark of the second. The goal moved Giroux to 599 career points, and he’d add an assist later to move to 600 career points.
Claude's got his 10th of the year, we've got a tie game. pic.twitter.com/TTh1zvA17c— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 24, 2017
Wayne Simmonds would give the Flyers a 2-1 lead about three minutes later to give the Flyers goals on consecutive shots. Shayne Gostisbehere blasted a point shot off the post and Simmonds was there to clean up his seventh goal of the season and first since way back on Oct. 21 against the Oilers. Nolan Patrick, who found Ghost at the point, picked up the other assist on the go-ahead goal.
THE WAYNE TRAIN IS A GOAL SCORER ONCE AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/OelfzDLdcw— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 24, 2017
The 2-1 lead would end up being short lived for the Flyers, however.
A turnover by Scott Laughton at center ice ended up in the back of his own net after Cal Clutterbuck tipped home a Dennis Seidenberg shot to even things at 2-2. The goal came just 1:28 after Simmonds gave the Flyers the lead.
Johnny Boychuck thought he gave the Islanders a lead at the 8:46 mark, but the puck beat Elliott as the Isles were on a delayed offsides and was immediately called off by the officials.
It would be the Flyers to take back the lead, however, with Gostisbehere taking advantage of a delayed call against the Isles to make it 3-2. Sean Couturier was hooked on the rush, but fended off the defense and dropped the puck to Gostisbehere for the goal.
SCORES— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 24, 2017
3-2 FLYERS pic.twitter.com/pRDpeeEFCH
Just 19 seconds later it would be Couturier’s turn to finish, taking a perfect pass from Jake Voracek behind the goal to push the Flyers’ lead to 4-2 with 7:30 left in the second.
The Flyers’ top line figured heavily into both goals as five of the possible six points on the two goals went to Giroux, Couturier and Voracek as the trio tried their best to will this team to a win.
Jordan Eberle would close the gap to 4-3 at the 4:12 mark on the power play for the Isles just after Travis Konecny missed on a breakaway at the other end. The goal came on a questionable call to Jake Voracek for hooking while Konecny was taken down without a call.
Needless to say the officiating did not favor the Flyers after the penalty shot was awarded to Nolan Patrick early on in the game.
A high-sticking call to Mathew Barzal helped the Flyers establish some momentum after Eberle’s goal, but it was Brian Elliott with a huge pad save on John Tavares at the other end the preserve the lead.
But with 7:49 left Elliott was unable to hold the lead once more as Mathew Barzal found Andrew Ladd out front to tie things up at 4-4. Nolan Patrick lost Barzal and then Ladd was left alone to ram home the pass leaving Elliott little chance.
Nothing would go for either team in the final five minutes of regulation, setting up free hockey for the folks who came out on Black Friday.
With 2:16 left in the overtime session, it was Nick Leddy all alone in front to seal the 5-4 win and send the Flyers to a seventh-straight loss.
We’re back at it Monday. Enjoy your weekend, Flyers fans.
Subject: Chicago Bears Film Review: Mitchell Trubisky
Is Mitchell Trubisky the next Carson Wentz?
“Okay, that’s exactly the way Carson was a year ago.”
Bears fans were likely stoked to hear Doug Pederson drop this soundbite when asked about Mitchell Trubisky earlier this week. Carson Wentz, as you may or may not know, is a very good quarterback—and according to Doug, Trubisky is on a similar path.
The full quote reads:
“We knew last year with Carson as a rookie that there were going to be growing pains and we were going to take some lumps. And also, listen, we just weren't very good as a football team last year, too, and didn't have the surrounding pieces around Carson. You kind of see in Mitch, you see the arm talent, you see the athleticism, the strength. You see good decisions, the accuracy. You see things that flash on tape that you go, 'OK, that's exactly the way Carson was a year ago.’”
I decided this week, for the enemy film review, to go in-depth on Mitchell Trubisky and see what his first NFL season looks like, and to what extent is he Wentz-y. I have to say, (spoiler alert), Doug was pretty on point. From the lump-taking, the flashes of special ability, and even the implicit shot at Chicago’s supporting cast, there are some solid parallels to be drawn between Carson and Mitchell’s first year.
Let’s get into the tape.
We’ll start with the good stuff. Look no further than Mitchell’s first NFL throw, and you can already see some of the goods that got him drafted 2nd overall (just like Carson).
That’s an NFL throw, right from the jump. The mechanics on the throw aren’t super clean—we’ll get there—but the ball comes off of his hand with extra mustard. Zing!
You’ll also notice how nicely this ball is placed: in “receiver only” territory. Trubisky has had his share of rookie interceptions and boneheaded errors this year, but he has shown excellent ball placement relative to coverage since his first start. That’s very exciting to see.
Because he has such a live arm, Trubisky is one of the best off-platform throwers that has come out in recent classes. Patrick Mahomes, a contemporary of Trubisky’s, has otherworldly arm strength from adjusted platforms, so it was easy to overlook Trubisky’s ability in this regard. It’s special as well.
That throw’s about 45 yards in the air, and it’s an absolute beauty. This play also serves as a nice example of the talent level with which Trubisky is working: Tre McBride has played some decent football for the Bears, but his OPI + drop combo here is a one-two punch of which Dorial Green-Beckham would be envious.
From here, we can nicely transition into another Wentz-ian strength of Trubisky’s.
Trubs can move, folks. In the opening game against the Vikings, on which we have focused our study so far, OC Dowell Loggains wisely got Trubisky out of the pocket on designed sprintouts and play action bootlegs. With these concepts, Loggains capitalized not only on Trubisky’s ability to throw a good ball on the move, but also cut the field in half, simplifying the reads for his inexperienced QB.
That’s a 3-man route concept, with a Hi-Lo read initially and a backside crosser in the intermediate level coming across late, all breaking to the same boundary. The pre-snap motion to the back side shifts the coverage shell enough that the corner (Trae Waynes) doesn’t maximize his single-high safety help, and Tre McBride runs a filthy route to separate. Trubisky puts a great ball on him for the first on 3rd and 10.
We should take a moment to note, as it will become of import later, that Trubisky is a bit late on this throw. He should have be able to watch both the out and deep corner routes at the same time. As such, when he sees Trae Waynes close hard on McBride’s route, Trubisky should know that McBride will break open, and he should begin to release the football. Fortunately for him, he has the arm strength to get the ball to McBride late, but still in bounds—that’s another Wentz-like talent—but we’ll keep an eye on Trubisky’s anticipation moving forward.
As we Philly fans know, play-extending mobility oft turns into heart-racing scrambling. In almost every single game in which he’s played, Trubisky has at least one awesome run.
Alright rook! 3rd and 13, and he gets on the horse and goes diving for the sticks. Love it.
For a young quarterback, I think Trubisky shows solid discernment when it comes to running the football. He knows how/when to slide, which is always good. He will occasionally break a pocket early, when simply climbing or shifting would have bought him the time he needed—however, Trubisky is probably a more accurate QB on the hoof than he is in the pocket, so you can’t fault him too much for going where he’s comfortable.
Trubisky will be, in my opinion, a little too quick to pull his eyes down and tuck the ball at times. Let’s start on that topic when transitioning into aspects of his game that have improved over his short tenure as a starter.
Full Field Vision and Progressions
A perfect example: As you can see, TE Zach Miller gets caught in some ugly traffic when working back to the play side, and is consequently a little late getting into the progression. Trubisky, feeling the heat of the pursuing defender, recognizes that his deep routes aren’t going to open up, pulls his eyes, tucks the football, and maximizes the play into a positive game. Tough to fault him for that.
But look at all of that green in front of Miller! There were a lot of yards lost on this play, even though it picked up three. Through experience, Trubisky will learn that when there’s that much open space on the field, there’s likely a receiver trying to get into that space—especially on a concept such as this. Rollouts are regularly tagged with a late crosser from the backside, to capitalize on this very point. Young QBs, often caught up in the flow, forgo that final option in their progression.
But as we said, this is an area in which we’ve seen improvement from young Mitchell. From the Saints game:
Is that ball well-placed? Not really. Is Trubisky late (again) getting to that read? I’d say so. Is it a great sign that he worked back to it? You betchya.
But there’s more to full field vision than post-snap progressions: Trubisky’s been up-and-down in his pre-snap diagnosis of coverages as well. Here against the Saints, Trubisky gets a 2-deep look that shifts at the snap to Cover 3. That’s tough on any rookie QB to recognize, but Trubisky struggles mightily on this rep.
He’s locked into the left half of the field, wherein he has a deep comeback from the boundary receiver, a little curl route from the RB, and a deep over coming across the field from the slot receiver (TE Zach Miller) on the strong side.
If Trubisky still thinks this is Cover 2, we’re in big trouble. That safety has rotated; it is clearly single-high. Maybe that deep over by Miller is an option route, with which he could have split the safeties on a seam route against Cover 2, so Trubisky made up his mind pre-snap that Miller was the target and has since failed to adjust post-rotation. That would make things a little better, but not much.
If Trubisky knows it’s Cover 3, I have no idea at what he’s staring. That left side of the field is going to be swallowed up by Cover 3, as the high safety will take Miller, the corner will ride the comeback from the WR, and the curl/flat defender will take the curl from the RB. If anything, Trubisky can hit the comeback—but if that’s the case, he should climb the pocket, set his feet, and deliver a strike. He doesn’t do that.
Meanwhile, on the right side, a perfect little rub concept that exposes the Cover 3 shell is wasted. The slot receiver forces the curl/flat defender to widen, and the boundary receiver sneaks right into that vacated zone.
Trubisky’s inability to quickly recognize a secondary rotation is one thing—and a concerning thing at that. His failure to move away from a covered area of the field to the later routes in his progression, however, is markedly more worrisome.
As such, he peels out of the pocket, missing both the boundary receiver on the slant and the slot receiver, who’s in a tight but open window on the sit route. No bueno.
But as the offense has opened more and more for Trubisky, he has improved in both his pre-snap recognition and post-snap swiftness. That’s a great sign for Bears’ fans, as the mental game is often the most difficult of hurdles for young quarterbacks to overcome. Trubisky is by no means there yet, but we’re well on our way.
Take this sequence, late against the Lions, in a game the Bears should have won last week: Trubisky has a clear Cover 3 shell from the snap, he gets good time in the pocket, and all of the Lions’ linebackers are playing forward. The middle of the field is OH-PEE-EEE-EN open.
But when that dig route from the isolated receiver (away from the trips) uncovers, Trubisky doesn’t pull the trigger. We know he has the arm to hit it. This goes back to the struggles with anticipation, but also begs the question—did Trubisky know this route was going to open up? Did he read the defense and understand the play design within the structure?
Very next play: 2nd and 18, DET 49: strong side dig from 3 x 1 formation v. Cover 3 (safeties rotate post-snap). Pickup of 17.
(Next drive) 1st and 10, CHI 31, :47 on the clock, down by 3, 3 timeouts: weak side dig from 3 x 1 formation v. Cover 3 (safeties rotate post-snap). Ball sails.
1st and 10, DET 43, :15 on the clock, down by 3, 1 timeout: weak side dig from 2 x 2 formation v. Cover 3 (safeties rotate with motion). Game-winning field goal attempt incoming.
This is likely some combination of good coaching on the sidelines, good play-calling during the final drive, and good quarterbacking. Fact is, Trubisky missed a wide-open read on one play, then came back to the well three times on two (if Connor Barth doesn’t miss a FG) game-tying drives in the 4th. Trubisky strikes me as the short-memory type—make a mistake, move on—and I’ve been impressed with his in-game growth in multiple contests. This sequence serves as a great example.
Let’s talk, however, about that throw that he sailed. Sorry folks, we’ve gotten to the “It’s not getting better yet; it’s just plain bad” segment of our breakdown.
Accuracy (i.e. throwing to the left) and Mechanics
Coming out of college, it was already known that Trubisky simply struggles to throw to his left. Don’t believe me? Go watch the first, oh, nine GIFs I posted and tell me which direction the play went.
The Bears know their quarterback: he’s much better throwing the ball right than he is left.
Unfortunately, defenses know the Bears’ QB too. On the Sunday following the rollout right, sprintout right bonanza that was Trubisky’s first start against Minnesota, the Baltimore defense decided they weren’t going to allow Trubisky such a long leash. Raven edge defenders stayed home against hard run looks to the left from under center, forcing the ball early and often out of Trubisky’s hand when he wanted to extend the play to the right.
As a result, Trubisky had to play the Baltimore game far more often in the pocket, and consequently had to attempt a pass or two to the left side of the field. And that didn’t go so well.
We see inconsistent footwork and mechanics whenever and wherever Trubisky throws (see that sailed ball above, which was to Trubisky’s right). Not unlike Carson, Trubisky’s feet will get stuck in the mud, and he’ll rely upon his arm to force footballs where he wants them to go. It’s easy to sneak away with that to your dominant hand’s side, as you don’t need to open up your shoulders and hips to throw that direction. It’s a different story for the non-dominant side.
It’s a common mechanical flaw in young quarterbacks—in all quarterbacks, really. When opening their hips to throw non-dominant, they end up “stepping in the bucket”—they begin with their hips too narrow and end with their hips too wide.
The ideal QB, mechanically, generates the power for his throw by transferring weight from his back foot to his front foot through the rotation of the hips. In such a movement, the rotational momentum generated by the hips—the torque—has to become linear momentum as it propels the movement of the ball. When you “step in the bucket,” you disrupt the line onto which that rotation momentum should be applied. You skew the line, slanting it, minimizing the power generated by your rotation, disrupting your throwing motion, and forcing your arm to do work it cannot do. And the ball sails.
In both the above GIFs, you can see how Trubisky’s weight seems behind his throwing motion, and how his follow-through is more circular than linear. This issue will rear it’s ugly head all over the field, but it’s especially gnarly to Trubisky’s left. For as long as it persists, Trubisky will limit his offense to two-thirds of the field, which will make defenses’ jobs all the easier.
Finally, Trubisky struggles with two most common rookie QB infirmities—at least, in my opinion, they’re the most common: anticipation and blitz recognition. Trubisky quarterbacked with decent anticipation in college, and still makes the occasional throw that demonstrates he has the capacity to throw WRs open.
Patient in the pocket, read the leverage, put it in a place where the WR can make a play: that’s A1 Trubisky right there.
However, Trubisky’s arm talent often allows him to mask his anticipatory issues—at least, his ability to attack tight windows allows him to throw with less anticipation (as we said, that’s quite the Wentz-ish trait).
On this 3rd and 10, Trubisky throws a great ball and picks up a key first down—but we scout (and trust) the process, not the result. This ball comes out late—you can see Trubisky hesitate, as he waits to see his receiver break before releasing—and the mechanics are pretty crummy, as he throws to his left.
Great ball. Bad process.
Finally, Trubisky has been downright abysmal recognizing blitz looks and deciding how to account for them. On this rep against the Lions, the box safety is suspiciously close to the line of scrimmage and lined up directly behind the nickel cornerback. You should be able to sniff out a potential rush here.
But even if you don’t, Trubs stares directly into the blitzer for a solid 2 seconds before bailing to—get this—the dig route v. Cover 3 and throwing up a prayer. This should have sealed the game.
Trubisky has little to no freedom at the line to move protection, from what I can tell. That ability will come with time for the young player, who came into training camp, preseason, and the regular season as the presumed “backup,” and only had one year of college starting experience to boot.
As I said, it’s a pretty solid comparison. In their respective rookie seasons, both players made the splash plays necessary to sell the fanbase, locker room, and coaching staff on their potential as a franchise piece. I think Trubisky places the football better than rookie Wentz ever did (as evidenced by only 2 INTs), and will likely be a more efficient passer if he pans out. Rookie Carson, however, saw the field better and processed quicker than Trubisky has so far in his debut year—at least pre-snap. Post-snap, the difference is a lot smaller. Carson is a stronger and more elusive athlete as well, I would wager.
Beyond that, the similarities between big-armed, mobile, playmaking QBs who struggle with consistent accuracy stand out. Like Wentz, Trubisky’s future will be tied to his mechanics. If he can’t clean up his footwork when working through his progressions or throwing to his left, he’ll forever be a limited talent. Wentz made shocking strides in this area after focused offseason work—I wonder if Trubisky will take a similar path.
All in all, I agree with Doug’s eval. Chicago fans, y’all should be pretty pumped: if you can get some better pass-catchers in the building and keep that offensive line healthy, there’s no reason to believe Trubisky can’t make the Bears competitive in the powerful NFC North in 2018.
Subject: Eagles News: Eagles-Rams game could get flexed to Sunday Night Football
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 11/25/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
Ask Farmer: Will the hype surrounding Rams vs. Eagles force the NFL to move it to Sunday night? - LA Times
In theory, the point of flexing a game is not to give NBC the best game but to extricate it from a bad one. So it’s essential to look at the Sunday night game currently scheduled for Dec. 10: Baltimore at Pittsburgh. That’s typically an attractive rivalry game, although it’s diminished this season with the Ravens (4-5) miles behind the Steelers (8-2) in the AFC North. Eagles-Rams showcases two NFC powerhouses and pits quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, the top two picks in the 2016 draft. Even though flexing isn’t about getting the best game on NBC, this one might be too good to keep off primetime.
Eagles vs. Bears Week 12: Five Friday “For Sures”- BGN
Over the five weeks (4 games) since Hicks lost the remainder of the season, Bradham leads all qualifying linebackers in coverage snaps/target, coverage snaps/reception, and yards allowed/coverage snap (per PFF). Over the entire season, Bradham actually has the most coverage snaps of all qualifying LBs...and still leads the league in all three categories. That’s straight bonkers, team. Offenses aren’t throwing it to Bradham, aren’t completing it on Bradham, and even when they do, it’s for minimal gains (over the Hicks-less span, Bradham hasn’t missed a tackle. In pass coverage or run support.)
NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Cowboys are dead - PhillyVoice
Dak Prescott had EVERYTHING going for him his rookie season: And at the slightest hint of adversity, he has stunk.
Game Review – PHI 37, DAL 9 - Iggles Blitz
Let’s start with good throws. Wentz hit Barner for a key gain on the opening drive. It wasn’t a great throw because Barner had to adjust to the ball, but Wentz kept it away from the S and gave his guy a chance to make a play. The best throw in the game was his TD to Jeffery. AJ was in a tight window and Wentz fired a strike to him. Excellent accuracy and velocity. You also love the fact he trusted his big, tough WR to catch the ball in traffic.
Eagles have played easiest schedule in NFL, but challenges await - ESPN
The Philadelphia Eagles were projected to have the most difficult strength of schedule in the NFL heading into the 2017 season. It has been the exact opposite to this point. ESPN Stats & Information ran the numbers and, by opponents record, the Eagles have played the easiest schedule in the NFL (.400) through 11 weeks. Look no further than the NFC East for the change in forecast: a division that was expected to have some serious bite has been toothless outside of Philly. The Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants are all under .500. With the Cowboys (5-6) now five games back with six to play, the Eagles can clinch the division as early as Week 13.
A Trip Around The Eagles' Locker Room - PE.com
This has been a week like every other week for a team with a zeroed-in focus and the sole intention of winning another football game. For the Eagles, it’s a meeting with the Chicago Bears on Sunday and with that, the locker room has its stories within the big story. Here is another Trip Around the Eagles' Locker Room …
Eagles' defense on historic run of eliminating big plays - NBC Sports Philadelphia
Big plays killed the Eagles last year. They allowed the second-most 20-yard plays in the NFL, the third-most 30-yard plays and the third-most 40-yard plays. Those plays have largely evaporated this year, and the Eagles' ability to reduce — and lately eliminate — big plays has contributed tremendously to their eight-game winning streak and NFL-best 9-1 record. “We're just all doing our job, nothing more, nothing less," Patrick Robinson said. "When the plays are presenting itself, we make those plays. It’s been huge for us so far. Make them throw it down in front of us." After last year's barrage of long passes and big runs, the Eagles this year rank third in the NFL in 40-yard plays allowed, third in 30-yard plays and second in 20-yard plays. The improvement is astonishing.
Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill and his kicking coach - Inquirer
“Kamu is mostly on special teams, so I know when to watch and when it’s OK not to watch, if you know what I mean,” Smith said. That’s true for most games, but Sunday’s against the Cowboys turned out to be a little different. Smith took a small break between drill sessions and picked up her phone for a quick look, and the screen was jumping. “I had, like, 40 text messages all of a sudden. One of them said, ‘Kamu’s about to kick,’ ” Smith said. “And there was another text where someone sent me a screen shot of a tweet that said he missed the net when he was practicing. I told the two girls I was working with, ‘I’m sorry. I have to watch this.’”
Chris and Kyle Long play ‘The Not-so-Newly Bred’ Game - The Athletic
On Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, brothers Chris and Kyle Long will line up against each other in a regular-season game for only the second time. In 2013, Chris' Rams beat Kyle's Bears, 42-21, though the elder brother only had two tackles on the afternoon. Kyle, in his rookie season, was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty after this play, which showed that blood is thicker than allegiance to a team whose allegiance to its own city was minimal to begin with. Of course, we can't judge the brothers on team success. So in order to pit the two against each other one-on-one, we asked them the same 10 questions to find out which Long brother knows the other better. Thanks to Kevin Fishbain, our The Athletic teammate in Chicago, for tracking down Kyle's responses.
Rasul Douglas' development with Philadelphia Eagles continues after playing time evaporates - PennLive
Rasul Douglas has never been through a 16-game football season, so the Philadelphia Eagles' rookie cornerback is keeping an eye on more established players. He wants to see how they take care of their bodies, observe the ways they remain fresh after enduring months of grueling games and practices, only to gear up for a playoff push. "I watch the vets," said Douglas, whose Eagles host the Bears on Sunday. "In the morning and after practice, I always see them in the ice tub, the headphones in, and just in the weight room, they get the extra stretch in."
Week 12 Game Preview: Bears- Eagles - Windy City Gridiron
It’s the week of Thanksgiving and hopefully you have a lot to be thankful for, but it’s unlikely that your favorite football is one of those things. If you’re a Chicago Bears fan that is. If you’re a Philadelphia Eagles fan you have a lot of things going your way, including an NFL-best 9-1 record and an 8-game winning streak. Sunday’s game is a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions, seemingly. The Eagles are zeroing in on the No. 1 seed in the NFC and planning for a deep run in January and the Bears are coming off of three straight losses and looking at a coaching change with another high draft pick. However, the Bears might have a little bit more in common with the Eagles than at first appearance.
Jerry Jones thinks the Cowboys can turn things around - SB Nation
With Ezekiel Elliott off the field until Week 16 and the defense floundering, it’s a tall order.
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Subject: The best photos from the Flyers Black Friday OT loss to the Islanders
Subject: Time for a Change: What Needs to Happen Now After Islanders 5, Flyers 4
Subject: Islanders 5, Flyers 4: What we learned from a game that we already watched two days ago
This is getting old.
I thought about starting this article by talking about how Friday’s 5-4 loss to the Islanders was a microcosm of this Flyers season to date. A game that saw some early promise and excitement, as a flawed team managed to take a lead thanks to some strong performances from both its best players and its youngest players. A game that saw those good feelings evaporate as time went on, due to come combination of dumb mistakes and miscues, lack of talent, poor discipline, and plain bad luck. A game that ended with silver linings but also the Flyers trailing on the scoreboard.
And it’d have been reasonably accurate. But at this point, calling a game like that a “microcosm” wouldn’t be doing justice to the fact that the Flyers have played basically this exact same game three times already this month, including once against this same opponent two days ago about 100 miles up I-95.
There are positives, and there are reasons to believe things aren’t as bad as they seem. The Flyers have lost seven straight games and are still only five points out of a playoff spot. The season isn’t sunk, even if the events of the past two weeks have — to state the blatantly obvious — put a bit of a dent in this team’s hopes of playing more than 82 meaningful hockey games this season. That’s all well and good. And some good performances from young players, which we’ll get to, help soften the blow a bit.
But there’s a point at which we stop being able to earnestly find moral victories. Even if four of these seven losses have been in overtime, which seems to be little more than a slightly weighted coin flip, continuously losing close games just drags on a team. This losing streak has consisted of shutouts, blowouts (well, one blowout), and blown leads. There’s some morbid diversity in how the Flyers have gotten to this point, and when there’s no one answer to the question of “how do we stop this”, finding the multiple answers that may be necessary proves harder and harder with each passing game.
Lament the wasted opportunities. Stew over the blown leads and penalties that caused them. Swear under your breath about some of the coaching decisions made. Get mad about whatever the hell makes you mad in this game. Because no amount of silver linings changes the fact that this is all a big drag right now. It may turn soon. That’s hockey. But we’re left searching for answers until it does.
Two key numbers:
23:45 — the total ice time on Friday for Brandon Manning, second-most among all skaters on the team behind Ivan Provorov (at 25:34). The ice time figure was the second-highest Manning’s ever registered in a single NHL game; the one time he played more than that, Mark Alt was making his NHL debut and Oliver Lauridsen was on the ice for the Flyers.
In that time this afternoon, Manning was the second-worst Flyers defenseman on the afternoon in on-ice shot attempts, tallying a minus-6 (+17/-23) that was only better than that of his primary defensive partner, Travis Sanheim. He was on the ice for two Islanders goals, and he failed to get in the way of the passing lane on the set-up to Andrew Ladd that tied the game in the third period.
In some ways, I get it. There’s a lot of youth on this team right now, and Manning — as something of the elder statesman of the team’s defensemen sans-Andrew MacDonald and Radko Gudas — is a guy the coach thinks he can lean on as the team tries to get out of a funk. But in other ways, this is the kind of thing that is just going to infuriate a fanbase that doesn’t see much reason for hope and wants to know if any one of its young guys can do better than the career third-pairing defenseman.
And while it’s not Dave Hakstol’s job to placate his team’s fanbase, it’s his job to properly allocate out ice time properly. Leaning on Manning the way he did yesterday is probably not doing that. You can get away with decisions like this when you’re winning games, but when you’re, y’know, not, eyebrows will be raised over moves like this.
3 — the number of two-goal leads the Flyers have blown in the past two weeks. The Flyers led 2-0 in Winnipeg on Thursday of last week and 3-1 against Calgary last Saturday before going on to lose both of those in extra time; on Friday, they led 4-2 going into the third period before coughing that lead up.
So what’s the deal here? Is it a mentality thing? Are the Flyers turtling once they get a lead by design? Are players naturally sitting back, the way that score effects would lead one to think they might?
If it’s a run-of-play thing, that’s not showing up in the numbers. The Flyers tied Winnipeg in shots on goal across the second and third periods of that game, and they actually outshot Calgary by a fair bit in those same timeframes last Saturday. And while the Islanders outshot the Flyers yesterday during their comeback attempt, they didn’t exactly dominate the final frame; total shot attempts in the third period were just 23-21 Islanders, though that number was admittedly buoyed by a Flyers power play that was productive but didn’t result in any goals.
The easiest target here is probably discipline and composure, both keys for a team with a penalty kill that’s been floundering lately. And it certainly looked like a problem on Friday — a scrum by the Flyers’ net led to a 4-on-4, and shortly thereafter Jakub Voracek was called for a completely asinine “hooking penalty” that set the Flyers on a penalty kill that would see their lead cut to one. Even if the numbers didn’t quite show it, it felt as though the Flyers were in scramble mode for much of the rest of that period up to and even a bit after Ladd’s tying goal.
When you haven’t won a game in over two weeks, it’s tough not to let a bad break such as the one the Flyers caught early in the period snowball on you. It’s not hard to start thinking “here we go again” as soon as something crappy like that doesn’t go your way. But hockey games are rarely smooth affairs from start to finish, and if this team wants to get off its current schnide, it’s going to have to do a better job rolling with those punches. (And, also, of killing penalties. That might help.)
Three Flyers of note:
1. Travis Sanheim
No one player embodied what the Philadelphia Flyers were yesterday quite like Travis Sanheim, whose game was a combination of smooth offense and tantalizing potential in all three zones to go along with defensive lapses and clear learning moments.
In the first period, Sanheim was everywhere. He made a couple of very nice maneuvers and passes in the offensive zone to set up chances for his teammates. And in the defensive zone, he looked exactly like you’d hope a mobile, 6’4” defenseman would look: he was standing players up and separating them from the puck, along the boards and in space.
But as the game went on, Sanheim swung in the other direction. He seemed hesitant, his reads in the defensive zone weren’t great, and he played at least a minor role in two Islanders goals. Sanheim attempted, unsuccessfully, to tie up Cal Clutterbuck in front right before the mustachioed Islander artfully deflected a point shot past Brian Elliott in the second period. And on the Islanders’ game-tying goal, while the puck doesn’t even get here if Manning stops the pass and he should probably shoulder most of the blame on it, that probably doesn’t matter if Sanheim is a half-step quicker getting over to cover Ladd in his partner’s stead.
The end result was Sanheim having, by far, the worst on-ice metrics of any Flyer on the afternoon, as his minus-11 in 5-on-5 shot differential was at least three shots worse than any other Flyer and six worse than any other Flyers defenseman. For a player who has routinely crushed it by basically every on-ice metric available in his rookie season so far, the dud in that department does catch your attention a bit, and you wonder if his overall lackluster performance yesterday is why the team didn’t go to him in 3-on-3 (we’ll get there, though).
We’ve mostly been downers so far in this post, and rightfully so, but let’s lighten up the mood a bit. Nolan Patrick’s looked better and better just about every time he’s played since coming back from injury earlier this month, and yesterday he really looked like the guy they were expecting when they drafted him with the second overall pick. (Which they got by moving up from 13th in the draft lottery. Remember when that happened? Hey, we all need a pick-me-up on days like this.)
The one point that Patrick registered on the scoresheet — a secondary assist on Simmonds’ goal — came after he forced his way into the offensive zone with control, took a pass from new linemate Danick Martel and went back behind the goal line, and then emerged to put a pass right on Shayne Gostisbehere’s tape that’d eventually turn into a rebound goal. That was a good example of what Patrick was flashing for most of the afternoon, as his skating was as good as it’d looked at any point this season and he was creating chances for his icemates left and right. Patrick even got a chance of his own in the first period when an obstructed breakaway turned into a penalty shot; on the shot, he had an opening on his backhand side, but he couldn’t quite get enough on the shot to angle it behind Thomas Greiss.
Martel, whose outstanding pass gave Patrick that breakaway opportunity, seems to have almost instantly unlocked something in Patrick that we hadn’t seen much of in his first 13 games. The little guy has added a bit of everything to that line — speed, skill, grit and toughness — and right now the Flyers can’t possibly break that group up. Patrick was a monster on Friday by every on-ice measure available; his +8 in shot attempts and +7 by scoring chances led all forwards wearing orange and black. And Corey Sznajder, who has manually tracked almost every Flyers game this season, noted that each of Patrick’s zone entries on the day was a carry-in, and called it “probably Patrick’s best game from an offensive standpoint” of the young season. A few more games like this from No. 19, and at least some of the grumbling is going to quiet down a bit.
3. Samuel Morin
We’ll round out this section with a third rookie, because I know you all and I know you don’t want to read about the other guys on this team right now.
Two days after an uneven season debut, Morin’s first regular-season game on Wells Fargo Center was probably the best game of his (three-game old) NHL career. Morin actually led the Flyers in on-ice shot differential at 5-on-5 (+12), and he was in no way a passenger to partner Shayne Gostisbehere (who also played a good game) in tallying that number. While Morin did the things that he was good at — coverage and physicality in the defensive zone, threatening players on the rush with his reach — it was his work on the puck that was really encouraging, as that’s likely the area that will determine how high Morin’s ceiling is as an NHLer.
All throughout the game, Morin managed to make simple but effective passes that weren’t going to get him in trouble. A shift in the middle of the first period, where he got the puck out from along the boards while under pressure and passed it out to get the puck up-ice for the Patrick line, set the tone for a good afternoon on the puck for Morin. He was only officially charged with one giveaway in his 15:28 of ice time, and that came on the penalty kill just before Jordan Eberle’s goal; outside of that minor hiccup, there was a lot to like in Morin’s game on Friday.
A common player comparable for Morin that I saw around the time he was drafted was “Luke Schenn, but a better skater”. That comparison may not have been entirely meant as a compliment, but Morin’s performance on Friday reminded me of Luke Schenn’s better stretches in orange and black. For a player with a skill set that really just doesn’t fit what’s asked of modern NHL defensemen, Schenn has survived as a solid depth player in this league because he plays to his strengths and doesn’t try to be more than those strengths, mostly managing to keep himself out of trouble even if the end results aren’t spectacular. Morin’s game on Friday was one in which he did well what he does well, and kept it simple by way of quick decisions in the areas where he’s not as strong. That’s a good sign for him, and hopefully as he gets more familiar with this level he’ll continue to make good decisions.
Four leftover thoughts:
- The loudest reactions on social media following this game were tied to coach Dave Hakstol’s decisions during the 3-on-3 period, and it’s hard to disagree that those decisions were anything short of questionable. Hakstol broke up the Giroux/Voracek/Gostisbehere unit again in this game, starting the contest by putting Couturier with Voracek and Provorov, then giving Ghost a run with Simmonds and Patrick, then running Giroux out with Valtteri Filppula and Brandon Manning. I disagree with some of the player choices, but I get them. Manning’s presence out there seemed to particularly infuriate fans, but I understood it — he’s a better 3-on-3 option than Hagg and Morin, while Sanheim’s play trended downwards as the game went on. But no individual player choice is as questionable as the decision to break up the team’s long-standing top 3-on-3 unit, and there’s a point at which you can say that the coach is probably overthinking things when it comes to his best players. The Flyers won about a dozen games (please do not fact-check that statement, I know it’s not accurate) in the past two seasons with Giroux, Voracek, and Gostisbehere on the ice at 3-on-3. When your team’s lost six games in a row, maybe try and go with what you 100 percent know can work in this situation. I can’t bring myself to care that much about the other choices when that elephant is still in the room.
- It seemed like a pretty clear sign was being sent to the team’s struggling penalty killers early on in the game, when the team led off its first penalty kill with Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl rather than the typical top duo of Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier. And then, for good measure, Leier was replaced by none other than Claude Giroux on the next rotation, a move by Dave Hakstol that seemed to say “look, you made me do this” to the rest of his penalty killers. Leier didn’t play on the penalty kill at all on Friday; we’ll see if the team’s rolling Giroux out on the penalty kill again on Monday night in Pittsburgh or if this was just a one-time thing.
- There had been murmurs that Andrew MacDonald may play on Friday, but that obviously didn’t come to fruition. Still, a return to play for the veteran seems imminent, and I have absolutely no idea what Hakstol is going to do with the lineup to make room for him. Prior to this game, I’d thought it’d be Manning that would head back up to the press box, but his mammoth share of ice time yesterday leads me to at least somewhat think otherwise. Could it be Ghost? He looked back to form on Friday after an atrocious showing in Brooklyn on Wednesday, but who knows. Would the team really send Morin right back to the press box and/or the minors just after calling him up? Hopefully not. I don’t think anyone other than Provorov and Hagg are safe; we’ll find out soon enough who the unlucky blueliner is.
- And, finally, some quick hits: Nice for Wayne to crack the goose-eggs that have been haunting his goal column. If he hadn’t scored on that chance — staring at a gaping net from a Ghost shot that pinged off the post — I’m not sure he ever scores again ... Crappy breaks acknowledged, there were a couple of fortunate moments for the Flyers on Friday. Their fourth and final goal happened because Greiss misplayed a puck behind his net, while earlier in the period Brian Elliott gave up a goal on a shot from the neutral zone that was called off because of delayed offsides. Could’ve been bad, I suppose ... Speaking of Elliott, he followed up his Wednesday performance in which he performed much better than his poor in-game numbers with a Friday performance in which his poor in-game numbers pretty accurately told the story. No really bad goals in there, so to speak, but you can’t really sugarcoat 27 saves out of 32 ... Finally, congrats to Claude Giroux for reaching 600 points in orange and black. Hopefully 700 is on the table by the end of next season. That bomb of a one-timer he fired to put the Flyers on the board yesterday was for everyone out there yelling “SHOOOOOOT IT”, because holy crap, did he.